His Holiness Pope Francis, head of the Catholic Church, and His Eminence Dr. Ahmed El-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al Azhar Al Sherif, on Monday, February 4th, appealed to the world to unite to promote human fraternity.
The appeal is contained in a ‘Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together’, signed by the two religious leaders during a meeting held at the Founder’s Memorial in Abu Dhabi, according to the Emirates News Agency (WAM).
“Human Fraternity” embraces all human beings, unites them and renders them equal, according to the two religious leaders who opened the document by saying: "Faith leads a believer to see in the other a brother or sister to be supported and loved”.
They added: “Through faith in God, who has created the universe, creatures and all human beings, believers are called to express this human fraternity by safeguarding creation and the entire universe and supporting all persons, especially the poorest and those most in need".
According to the Emirates News Agency, Pope Francis and Dr. Ahmed El-Tayeb declared, through the document, what they described as "the adoption of a culture of dialogue as the path; mutual cooperation as the code of conduct; reciprocal understanding as the method and standard”.
Stating that God has forbidden the taking of innocent human life, they expressed their condemnation of such actions saying: "Whoever kills a person is like one who kills the whole of humanity, and whoever saves a person is like one who saves the whole of humanity".
Pope Francis and the Grand Imam also strongly condemned, in their joint declaration, "all those practices that are a threat to life such as genocide, acts of terrorism, forced displacement, human trafficking, abortion and euthanasia,".
The two religious leaders condemn “political manipulation of religions and interpretations made by religious groups who, in the course of history, have taken advantage of the power of religious sentiment in the hearts of men and women in order to make them act in a way that has nothing to do with the truth of religion,” according to the Declaration signed by both of them.
They added: "This is done for the purpose of achieving objectives that are political, economic, worldly and short-sighted. We thus call upon all concerned to stop using religion to incite hatred, violence, extremism and blind fanaticism, and to refrain from using the name of God to justify acts of murder, exile, terrorism and oppression."
Pope Francis and the Grand Imam went on to stress their commitment to religious freedom by saying: “Divine wisdom is the source from which the right to freedom of belief and the freedom to be different derives”. They also emphasised the need for the protection of the rights of women, children, the elderly, the weak, the disabled, and the oppressed.
At the end of the appeal, Pope Francis and the Grand Imam expressed their aspirations that the Declaration may be considered as a world invitation to reconciliation and fraternity among all human beings that lead to a better world.